Barclays PLC, the third-biggest bank in the United Kingdom by assets, has agreed to buy the Portuguese credit card business of Citigroup Inc. and said that it is looking for more "opportunities" in Western Europe.
The deal "is a great fit for our business," Frits Seegers, Barclays' head of retail and commercial banking, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
"We're looking at acquisition opportunities in Western Europe. International diversification is very important for our strategy."
He declined to give more details or say how much the bank is paying for the Portuguese business.
Barclays would acquire around 400,000 credit card accounts and assets worth about $937 million, it said.
Barclays plans to rebrand Citi's credit cards, Seegers said.
The British bank, which last year turned down a government cash injection, unlike rivals Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Lloyds Banking Group PLC, is expanding in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Russia, he said.
Acquiring Citi's Portuguese credit card unit would increase Barclays' market share to 9% from 3% in Portugal, Seegers said.
"We want to be one of the top-five players in the cards sector in Portugal," he said.
The deal would add 150 employees to its work force in Portugal.
Barclays employs 2,100 people in Portugal and expects to add 400 by the end of the year, Seegers said.
The London company, which purchased Lehman Brothers' New York headquarters and North American brokerage operations last year, has been expanding outside Britain and expects to add an additional 150 branches in Europe by the end of the year.
In Portugal, Barclays has 225 branches and expects to open another 50 by the end of the year, Seegers said.
It had 77 branches three years ago.
The Portuguese deal is expected to be concluded by the end of the year, he said.